After decades in rerun heaven, I Love Lucy has been renewed. "I Love Lucy Live on Stage," a performance of two episodes of the classic sitcom, opens October 1 for a three-month run at the Greenway Court Theatre in L.A. There are also plans for a national tour, and if the show takes off, it could be Babalu-ing its way into casinos, theaters, state fairs and cruise ships around the country.
Executive producers Stephen Kahn and David George developed the show after seeing fans line up for their traveling exhibit of the re-created I Love Lucy set that criss-crossed the country during the show's 50th anniversary celebration in 2001. "We knew the audience was out there for a stage show," says Kahn.
Other sitcoms such as The Brady Bunch have been performed in theaters, but largely as campy spoofs. "I Love Lucy Live on Stage" aims to be a pure slice of Americana that re-creates the filming of the show in front of a studio audience. The production has 11 actors and a seven-piece orchestra to provide backing for some Ricky Ricardo musical numbers, and several 1950s-vintage commercials are performed during scene changes.
Kahn licensed the episodes from CBS, which owns the rights to the series still seen on TV by 40 million Americans each year. He emphasizes that the staging is intended as a tribute to I Love Lucy, and the actors won't try to mimic the original cast members. "There was and will only be one Lucille Ball," he says. "We're simply doing the show."
For tickets and a video teaser, go to ilovelucylive.com.